9 games to go. Are you positively buzzing with excitement? You should be. I don't care about how difficult our remaining fixtures are, the harder they fall right? Usually it's us laying flat on the floor, face in mud, but I can see this going to the wire simply because it's been on the wire since practically the start. And having the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal (at home) might just turn out to be a blessing. We've done Chelsea a couple of times in recent seasons at the Lane. Arsenal? Well, it's been too long, and those lucky lucky mongs ('special spirit', lol) and their voodoo over us must be ended. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. And if we happen to shag it up against lesser opponents, we'll still have a say in the title race, a massive one, as we've also got Utd to play (and City) although tradition would suggest we'd be lubed up and bending over for them at Old Trafford with Howard Webb no doubt present, overseeing matters, holding a butt-plug and grinning.
Talking of Webb...actually, let's come back to him later.
First up, the win. 3-1 against Fat Sams lot in a game where Roman didn't play too well, missed a couple of decent chances but scored two goals, so even though he might have drifted in and out of the game and done his very best Andrew Cole impersonation (that's Andrew, not Andy) he still bagged himself a brace and could have had a hat-trick had he been a tad less casually with his lobbed effort. Good stuff that man. 8 in 6 games. It's impressive. And if you have an off-day and still score twice, then there's little to complain about.
Bale was strong and bold, worked his socks off demanding the ball and giving Salgado a tormented time. Yes, yes, Michel is an old man, but Gareth is doing this week in and week out. Will be interesting to see how he fairs in the left-wing position against the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal, and my money is on him continuing his stunning form. Season of comebacks this, with Roman and Bentley (until his injury) working their way back into our good books.
Dawson and Bassong were fine at the back, Daws showing off with his long range passing. Bassong, reliable and comfortable. Wilson (one card away from a suspension which might well prove to have devastating consequences if he happens to miss one of the Big Three games) was just flipping great in midfield. Again. Wasn't the best of games for Modric but then it wasn't the best of games full stop with the most effective play coming from the wings rather than through the middle. Although Wilson did play a delicious through-ball at one point that Luka would have been proud of. Palacios is back baby, he's back!
Corluka, not so great (wonderfully summed up here by AANP) and Niko struggled to impose himself. Special mention to BAE and his over-head kicks.
So in the midst of some decent individual performances and some sort-of half-decent-but-not-amazing attacking play, the game appeared to be conducted in part by the referee. Back to Howard, caught in yet another Webb. Although this time his incompetency was evenly shared out with our guests, Blackburn.
Dunn, fouled in the penalty area, squashed between two Lilywhites. The soft lad, tumbling over. No penalty. Phew for us, but when watched over, arguably the wrong decision. But I (we) can live with that.
Pav has a couple of efforts, and then just before half-time, Niko corner, Charlie flicks it on and JD poaches it home. 1-0, half-time. Deserved. 23 goals for Defoe this season. Applaud that.
Second half, Rovers are a little bit more lively, but alas, we counter and JD feeds Roman who fires in a shot that manages to bounce under Jason Brown (Robbo off injured allowing a rest-bite from all the singing from the home fans, yes, we still sing up for Robbo, quaint stuff) for 2-0. These things happen.
Penalty to Spurs, although there is no guarantee we'll score it and, no, hold up...no penalty. Webb, standing in what was a perfect position gives a goal-kick. Bale taken down by Salgado. Blatantly.
No pen. Guilt for not giving Rovers a pen? I guess he wasn't in a decent enough position for the Dunn incident, possibly saw his mistake at half-time, and sprinkled his own unique brand of anti-spurs karma on this decision. If it's not a penalty then book Bale. He doesn't. So what kind of consistency is this? You make one mistake, surely you make up for it by getting it right the next time? In fact what you should do as a ref is react solely based on the incident regardless of what has or has not been given before. I can only deduce that Webb is making concious decisions when to give or not give a decision based on his own personal agenda. The man is a fucking clown.
Bale fouled again in the box. No penalty again. Although someone who watched this on Sky Sports might be able to confirm if it was in or out of the box (if I got this wrong, then ignore incident three, happy to admit to my mistake).
Blackburn score with around 10 minutes to go which meant that we were about to enter the 'bite your nails off' arena with Spurs putting us all through the mire once more. Samba climbing all over Dawson (not that I would have disallowed it, but there are ref's out there that would have) to nod the ball in. Soft goal, Gomes caught in a huddle of players, lost but inconsequential because surprisingly we scored a third. Pav on his own, fluffs it, and seconds later the ball finds its self crossed over to Bale who strikes a majestic volley-pass across the face of the goal for Roman to score - with additional credit to Pascal Chimbonda who seemed to be man-marking himself and no-one else. 3-1. The end. Or not quite.
Webb's agenda by the way is a form of self-cleansing and perhaps not giving us a pen resulted with him disallowing a superb effort from Kalinic. Handball apparently. Even though Dawson fouled the player resulting in the handball.
Seems Howard Webb is incapable of simply ghosting through a game and allowing it to be about the players and the teams rather than his comical attempts at being masterful with officiating.
I'm guessing had this been us versus a <insert top 4 monopoly team here> his mistakes would have been far more specific and concentrated (against us, no doubt).
Yes, yes, conspiracy this conspiracy that. Read it and dry them:
2007/8, Man Utd (Old Trafford)
0-0 after 60mins, Berbatov rounds van der Sar and shoots, only for Wes Brown to block the shot with his arm. Webb does not give the penalty. Alan Hansen described it as "clearly a penalty" and that Brown should have been sent-off.
2008/9, Man Utd (Old Trafford)
Spurs leading 2-0 after 57mins, Webb gives a shocking penalty to United. After the game, and after a huge amount of (negative) coverage, he apologises for the decision.
2009/10, Chelsea (Stamford Bridge)
1-0 to Chelsea after 55mins, Keane is through on goal but is brought down by Carvalho. Webb doesn't give the penalty. It was described by the Guardian live text as "Absolute 100%, 24-carat stonewall penalty to Spurs. Not given."
2009/10, Liverpool (Anfield)
Liverpool leading 1-0 after 35mins, Kyrgiakos is all over Crouch in the box. Webb gives a free-kick to Liverpool, described as a "strange decision" on BBC Sport's live text.
After 47mins, Defoe capitalises on a mistake in the Liverpool defence to score, but Webb disallows the goal. The match report on the BBC Sport webpage says "the exact nature of the offence was not clear".
200/910, Blackburn (White Hart Lane)
Spurs leading 2-0 after 65mins, Bale is brought down in the box by Salgado. Webb doesn't give a penalty. BBC Sport's live text states "I'm not sure how or why that wasn't a penalty".
(compiled by Day of the Triffics pt.2)
There's incompetency and then there's Howard sodding Webb.
In the end, we still won. And won well. Still 4th. Still in it. And that's about as much as you can ask for from the team. 19 points the target. 3 taken, 16 more required. So says Harry.